Six men have been arrested on suspicion of poaching near Devizes after police found two burnt-out vehicles, catapults, ball bearings and the remains of a hare or rabbit.

At around 10.30pm on October 2 the police received a call about a suspicious vehicle on farmland in Conock, south of Devizes.

This was followed by further, separate, reports about two vehicles on fire on land close to Market Lavington.

Officers searched the area and, although they discovered the two burnt-out vehicles, no suspects were found.

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However, an off-duty police officer did see two further vehicles leaving the area at speed and one of these, a green Jeep, was then spotted by police in the Amesbury area a few hours later.

Officers stopped the Jeep at Solstice Park and carried out a search of the vehicle.

They seized the remains of a hare or rabbit, two catapults, a ball bearing, a can of fuel and a large hunting lamp.

Six men, aged between 28 and 41, from the Hampshire and Surrey areas, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and trespassing on land at night to take/destroy rabbits.

They were taken into custody at Melksham Police Station.

Inspector Pete Sparrow said: “This was fantastic work by various officers, including an off-duty officer, working across the Devizes and Amesbury areas.

“We know our rural communities have concerns about poaching and hare coursing, and we hope these arrests prove that we are taking action and will do all we can to apprehend and arrest offenders.

“We would urge anyone who sees suspicious activity on farmland to contact us, via 999 if they believe a crime is in progress, so we can respond swiftly.”